We pulled out the end of the garden today, a few weeks after than we had planned. This was the story of our garden this year. We started out the season with great plans, doubling the number of boxes, planting a huge variety of vegetables, flowers and herbs, but somehow we just never found our groove. Next year I need to be smarter about planting larger quantities of trusted plants, not just variety for varieties sake. I also need to stop being so scared of the last frost in the spring. I had quite a few plants right on the edge of taking off right before the first fall frost, and I wish had just gotten those seeds in the ground a week earlier instead of being so timid. Ella was sad that we were pulling all of the plants out of the ground, but I saw it as an opportunity. One growing season is over, but another is beginning as I sit at the dining room table making plans, putting together my seed order for the spring.
Summer squash and snap-beans gushed
all August, tomatoes in a steady splutter
through September. But by October’s
last straggling days, almost everything
in the garden was stripped, picked,
decayed. A few dawdlers:
some forgotten carrots, ornate
with worm-trail tracery, parsley parched
a patchy faded beige. The dead leaves
of potato plants, defeated and panting,
their shriveled dingy tongues
crumbling into the mud.
You have to guess where.
The leaves migrate to trick you. Pretend
you’re sure, thrust the trowel straight in,
hear the steel strike stone, hear the song
of their collision—this land is littered
with granite. Your blade emerges
with a mob of them, tawny freckled knobs,
an earthworm curling over one like a tentacle.
I always want to clean them with my tongue,
to taste in this dark mud, in its sparkled scatter
of mica and stone chips, its soft genealogy
of birch bark and fiddleheads, something
that means place, that says here,
with all its crags and sticky pines,
its silent stubborn brambles. This
is my wine tasting. It’s there,
in the potatoes: a sharp slice with a different blade
imparts a little milky blood, and I can almost
smell it. Ferns furling. Barns rotting.
Even after baking, I can almost taste the grit.